Shelling Out For Shell

Free trade ... Free oil contracts...There it is again, that cute word "free."

Of 46 international oil companies, including firms from China, India and Russia that had their eye on the first major oil deals in post-Saddam Iraq, guess who got the gig? Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total and BP!

The western giants got the first-of-a-kind no-bid contracts to service Iraq's biggest fields NOT because the US invaded Iraq for oil. Oh NO. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total et al, got the first-of-a-kind, no-bid deals because, (according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry) of the years of “free" consultations those companies have been giving to the ministry. The Ministry also cited a certain “comfort level" in their joint operations. That’s the ministry’s word.

So how's your comfort level? The companies have been advising "without charge" thanks to you. They get to give their consults away because we the taxpayers have been picking up the tab. We've paid for the imperial influence peddlers, which is to say -- the US military. We've paid the Pentagon -- and the private mercenaries who keep the Green Zone "comfortable" for Big Oil and the Ministry. We the tax-payers have been shelling out for Shell: to the tune of over $ 750 million a day.

And all that "free consulting" costs blood too: the blood of well over a million men and women and children and the health of a nation's water and soil.

It's not for naught. The companies are blissed out. Iraqi oil production is expected to go to 3 million barrels soon and 6 million barrels later. Imagine the revenues at today's $140 per barrel. It'll be great for profits. And don't forget: profit's just another word for money someone didn't have to pay for.

So take pride in the oil companies, who you helped offer so much, so comfortably, for "free." But don't expect a piece of the profit. Expecting back would be disturbing the comforts of the cronies of big oil. Besides, the companies are counting on you not thinking about it too much. Free sounds great. Don't let the facts mess with your comfort levels.

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